My beautiful mom

My beautiful mom

4 words I so love to hear.

4 words I so miss saying.

I can’t believe it’s been 7 whole years since she died. My world simultaneously stopped moving and started spinning at a crazy pace and before I knew it, I had been waiting for 7 years for my mom to call and ask me why I haven’t called her today.

Not a day goes by that I don’t feel like I am missing an arm; Like there is a hole where part of my heart was, and even though I have created so much love around me, there’s just nothing that can fix it. You can’t grow back your arm, and you can’t get back your mom when she’s gone.

February-March is always so difficult, 2 weeks filled with the best and the worst: The Hebrew date of her death, then my daughter’s birthday, to be immediately followed 3 days later by the anniversary of her death. Sad, happy, sad, happy – a rollercoaster of emotions in such a short amount of time, that when I get off the rollercoaster, my head is spinning, I’m not sure where I am, and have no idea how to stand up straight again.

When I was putting Sophie to bed tonight, she asked me, “Why do you read to me, Mommy? Is it because I am awesome?” I answered, “Yes, you are awesome” and then she flung her arms around me, throwing me full force onto her bed, and said, “I love you, Mommy,” embracing me for two whole minutes. I swear I have no idea which one of us needed that hug more. It took all my strength, of which I possess none, not to break into tears in front of her.

Rarely a day goes by, if at all, when I don’t think of how different my life would be if she were here. If she knew my kids, if she would have been the difference between the postpartum depression I had with Sophie and not having it. It sounds terrible, but sometimes I wish I could just forget. Forget that she isn’t here by forgetting that she was.

But then I see my kids, and she is in all of them. She is in Sophie’s smile, in Chloe’s hands, and in Eitan’s eyes. The love she gave me passes through me and into them. I try to incorporate her into our world as much as possible.

“Sophie, you know what Savta (grandma) Rochale would say?”

“Yes, Mommy, she said you can’t have too much vanilla extract in a cake and to always put in a little bit more.”

So I pretend everything is marvelous. My family is healthy, and nothing else really matters. But I am missing that arm. Sometimes I forget it isn’t there and I can feel a phantom arm, but it isn’t really there. Everyone else sees the arm, though, they can’t see that it’s missing, so I will continue to go through life as if I am whole since nobody can see that I’m not.



Sweet baby girl of mine,

Words have not yet been invented that can define how I feel about you. Without a doubt, you are the most incredibe gift that this world has ever received; That I could never expect. You are the most amazing creature on the planet, which each parent probably feels, but they should.

Each child should enter this world being the most amazing thing that happened to someone.

This year has been full of ups and downs, as the first year always is. The beginning was difficult, and I am not talking about the physical birth. You were, as I expected, born almost on the day of my mom – your grandmother’s – 3rd anniversary of her passing.

Your birthday will forever be intertwined with her deathday. I will forever be reflecting upon both simultaneously, perhaps even more than I would have otherwise.

But don’t feel bad, my marvel. You gave me a gift that no one else would have ever been able to give me: A new perspective of my mother. One that, had you never been born, I would have never had. And for that, my marvel, I thank you.

As you lay your head on my shoulder when you are sad or feeling bad, I am transported 35 years back to when I was the baby, and I can see my mother doing the same. When I feel my heart explode with emotion for you, I suddenly understand so much of how my mother treated me and how she must have felt.

When I felt down, and not good enough for you, I missed my mom so much, wondering if she felt the same way, because if she did, not only does that mean I was normal, but that it’s possible to pull yourself out of the abyss and become a great parent who is completely in love with her child.

Because I am. I am a good mother to you. I wonder who you will be when you are older, but focus on who you are now. You are so funny. I don’t think there has been one day in the past 6 months that you haven’t made me laugh at least once. My phone has no more space for pictures, because everything you do is the funniest thing that any child has ever done.

I love my job. I love what I do and (most of) the people I work with, and while I am thrown into work each morning, all I do all day is wait to come home to you.

This feeling never ceases to surprise me. My entire pregnancy and labor, I could not fathom how I could possibly love someone with such intensity as I love your father. And yet, here you are, proof that it’s completely possible, though completely different.

Every morning I think I couldn’t possibly love you more, and every evening I am proven wrong.  And I can’t help but believe that my mother felt the same way, and that gives me so much comfort.

I write you these words for two reasons. First, we don’t know what will happen later. If, by some tragedy, you are left in the same position I am in, I want you to know precisely how I felt about you. This is also part of why I wrote about my postpartum depression. But most importantly, in about 5 minutes you will be a teenager. You may be angry with me or your father. You may think we are setting too many limits or don’t care about you. But none of that is true.

This letter is a testament to how I feel about you now, and how I will, no doubt, feel about you until my last breath.

Because you are my marvel, just as I was my mom’s.

I get about a dozen emails every week from people with a dying/dead parent, asking me for advice or just asking me to be a sounding board for them. Yesterday I received an email from someone who’s mother was just given a few weeks to live after recently finding out she had cancer. The writer asked me what I wish I would have asked my mom before she died.

A lot of what I would ask or do now is different from what I would have done at the time because I am now a mother and at the time I wasn’t even dating anyone (see how much happens in 3 years?) In retrospect, I would have asked her a lot of questions that would have made me feel stupid at the time, since they weren’t even in the near future, but I would have been happy to have the answers later. I don’t regret not asking her these questions for this precise reason – I wasn’t even able to see past the fact that she was dying to a time where I would be happy. Regardless, by the time we knew it was the end, she couldn’t talk anymore anyway, so none of these would have been an option.

I’d ask her about her pregnancies, and what it was like for her to be a mom for the first time (I am the eldest). And I’d ask her about her births and recoveries and how she got through everything. I’d ask her what challenges she came across with pregnancy and marriage and what she did to resolve them, and I’d ask her how can you love a tiny person so much and still have enough room to love another (we are three girls).

I’d ask her about my childhood, what kind of a kid I was like, what she would have done differently with us and what she would have done the same. I’d ask her about her wedding and what the planning was like, and what tips she may have for me and if she’d be OK with me wearing her wedding dress (which I did).

I’d ask her why my meatballs aren’t as delicious as hers and for her recipe for chili.

I’d ask her to reassure me that I will find someone who I would like to marry (and who’d like to marry me) and that I would be a great mom. And I’d ask for her to list the reasons since I wouldn’t believe her anyway.

I’d ask her to record a video of herself reading some stories for my future kids, like “Goodnight, Moon”, which my nephew and niece both loved so much, so they could somehow know her, even the puffy and weird version of her, though that may be painful to watch.

Most of all, I would ask her to hug me so I could sniff her and feel her touch. I would give almost anything just to feel her touch and smell her.